Revenge over Capitan seems to be a common thread for Eunice sports this year, though Wednesday’s flavor will be a tad different.
When the fifth-seeded Cardinals baseball team (12-12) takes on the fourth-seeded Tigers in the second round of the Class 3A state tournament at Cleveland High School, it will be a rematch of a doubleheader that Capitan swept at the end of the regular season that cost Eunice the District 4-3A title.
That storyline doesn’t carry quite the same magnitude as when the football team played the Tigers for a second straight year in the state championship game this past fall, but the Cardinals are still a little juiced for a chance to avenge their district title hopes and move on in the state tourney.
First pitch will be around 1 p.m.
“Part of our goal was to win a district championship, and they were the ones that kept us from doing it,” said head coach Drew Reynolds. “So you’d hope that there’s a little bit of hostility and wanting to get back at them.”
Eunice had won nine straight district games entering the doubleheader to have a one-game lead over Capitan and Dexter in the district standings. All it needed was one win to clinch the title with tiebreakers over both teams, but the Cards just couldn’t get it done.
Not only did they lose both games, they were basically walked all over in each contest, too. Confidence was a little low coming off two demoralizing losses to non-district opponent Portales right before the series, and that energy carried into 6-1 and 10-6 losses.
Reynolds began to question the maturity of the group in the ensuing week heading into Eunice’s matchup with 12th-seeded Rehoboth Christian in the first round of the state tournament, and challenged his team to play with positivity. It worked to the tune of a 6-0 win that saw Logan Gaskins carry a no-hit bid into the sixth inning.
Perhaps to no surprise, Reynolds likes Eunice’s chances if it can do the same against Capitan.
“As individuals, we can’t put the whole game on our back, we’ve got to go in and play as a team,” he said. “We need to accept our failures if we have any, and stay positive with our teammates. That’s what we struggled with the last time. We had too many kids that were trying to take over the game instead of just being a part of it, and that trickled down.”